The Brewers and Royals have agreed to a trade sending right-handed reliever Taylor Clarke from Kansas City to Milwaukee in exchange for minor league righty Ryan Brady and minor league infielder Cam Devanney, the teams announced Thursday. The trade of Clarke opens a spot on the Royals’ 40-man roster for newly signed Seth Lugo, whose three-year $45MM contract (the third year of which is a player option) is now official. Neither Brady nor Devanney is on the 40-man roster.
Clarke, 30, has spent the past two seasons in Kansas City after opening his career with a three-year stint in Arizona. He enjoyed a solid 2022 campaign with the Royals, tallying 49 innings of 4.04 ERA ball out of the bullpen with a roughly average 23.6% strikeout rate and a brilliant 3.9% walk rate.
That success didn’t carry over to the 2023 season, however. Clarke pitched 59 innings — his highest total since working as a starter with the D-backs as a rookie in 2019 — but was clobbered for a 5.95 ERA. His 24.4% strikeout rate was a slight improvement over the prior season, but walk rate more than doubled to 9%. Clarke also found himself far more susceptible to unfavorable contact; his opponents’ “barreled” ball rate more than doubled from 6.2% to 12.6%, and his HR/9 mark accordingly exploded, soaring from a manageable 1.10 to 1.83.
Rough season or not, Clarke averages 95 mph on his heater, can miss bats at an average or better rate and has a minor league option remaining. That makes him a decent depth pickup for a Brewers club that tends to rotate quite a few arms through the final couple spots in the bullpen. Clarke and the Royals agreed to a pre-tender deal in November, one that commits $1.25MM to the righty. That avoided a hearing in his second season of arbitration eligibility, and he’ll remain under team control through the 2025 campaign.
Brady, 25 in March, joined the Brewers as an undrafted free agent in the summer of 2022. The former BYU righty has delivered excellent results since turning pro, albeit primarily against younger competition. Brady debuted with Milwaukee’s affiliate in the Arizona Complex League in 2022 and split the 2023 season between High-A (49 innings) and Double-A (28 innings). He’s posted a sub-3.00 ERA at each stop, working to a composite 2.67 earned run average with a 24.2% strikeout rate, 6% walk rate and 50% ground-ball rate in 81 professional innings. Brady wasn’t ranked among the Brewers’ top prospects on any major publication, but he’ll bring a solid track record to the upper levels of Kansas City’s system.
Devanney, 27 in April, was Milwaukee’s 15th-round pick back in 2019. He’s played primarily shortstop in pro ball (1728 innings) but also has considerable experience at third base (730 innings) and second base (515 innings) in addition to brief looks at first base and in left field.
Devanney spent the 2023 season with the Brewers’ Triple-A club in Nashville, where he batted .271/.362/.461 in 390 plate appearances. That was about seven percent better than average, by measure of wRC+, in a hitter-friendly setting. Devanney walked at a healthy 11.8% clip against a lower-than-average 18.2% strikeout rate. He’s improved his bat-to-ball skills and plate discipline in recent seasons while also showing more power. Devanney entered the 2022 season with 12 career home runs, but he popped 23 long balls in 2022 and connected on another 11 this past season. He’s a right-handed hitter who torched lefties at a .318/.400/.534 clip this year and a .307/.384/.526 clip the year prior. Devanney isn’t a threat on the basepaths and has more pedestrian numbers versus righties, but he could be a lefty-mashing utility infielder if things go well.